As you know, plaster results from the calcination of gypsum (CaSO4, 2 H2O), which partially dehydrates to produce a hemi-hydrate (CaSO4 , ½ H2O). The oldest traces of plaster renders are 9,000 years old, and were found in Anatolia and Syria. We also know that 5,000 years ago, the Egyptians burnt the gypsum in open-air fires, then crushed it into powder, and finally mixed this powder with water to make jointing material for the blocks of their monuments, such as the magnificent Cheops Pyramid for example. The Greeks also used gypsum, in particular as window for their temples when it was of a transparent quality (selenite gypsum).
Throughout the centuries, expertise was gained in many parts of the World with gypsum calcination and the use of plaster (mostly as render for walls and ceilings and as jointing compound for walls). In the 1700's, Paris was already the "capital of plaster" since all the walls of wooden houses were covered with plaster, as a protection against fire. The King of France had enforced this rule after the big London fire literally destroyed this city in 1666. By the end of the 19 th century, plaster was used in the construction industry in a very massive way, in Paris and many other cities around Europe.
During the 20th century, plaster was found to be of great use outside of the construction industry. For example in the ceramic industries sanitary ware, vtableware, giftware, in dentistry, in metal casting, jewelry, in medical applications, in cosmetics, animal food, and many more applications. It looks like each decade brings new uses for this material.